In 2001, a challenge began between two universities to see who could recycle the most materials within 10 weeks. This challenge became a competition between colleges spread all over the nation and into many other countries that is now known as RecycleMania.
Participation in the competition has exponentially grown from just two schools to 630 in a matter of 12 years. With nine categories and two divisions, the competition recently collectively recycled 91 million pounds of recyclables and organic material.
Mercyhurst’s Green Team partakes in this friendly competition within the Benchmark Division of RecycleMania to prepare the school for future competition in being able to create an accurate method of collecting data before completely devoting themselves to the Competition Division.
Mercyhurst’s Erie Campus as recently achieved a 29.9 percent recycling rate for the competition and the reason for this is the gradually improving estimation and accuracy of the weight in our dumpsters.
“How RecycleMania works is that we go around campus in the evening, about six days a week, and check the volume of all of the dumpsters and using conversion factors to convert from a volume to a weight,” Sustainability’s Officer Brittany Prischak said.
All of the conversion factors are for trash, food waste, mixed recycling or individual recycling. The recycling rate from last year to this year was much lower due to an overestimation in the amount of trash that had food waste.
Since partnering with Parkhurst, the estimation of the amount of waste that is food has gotten more accurate with the solid waste numbers resulting in an increase of the recycling rate.
In order to keep this rate high, the students should be aware of proper recycling techniques, such as keeping general trash out of the recycling dumpsters.
When contaminating the recycling dumpsters with general trash, it makes it harder to estimate and convert the numbers for the competition rates to be high.
Other ways of helping is just to decrease the amount of trash that is tossed away or to even purchase items that have less packaging.
Prischak suggests that, “maybe making food from scratch rather than boxed dinners” can help with limiting the amount of trash students throw away daily or even weekly; “those are the two keys, waste minimization and correct recycling.”
Recycling promotion around campus has become a huge factor in helping students and faculty become more mindful of what they throw away. Many new bins have been put around campus, especially in freshman areas, to help with having students make good decisions when it comes to recycling a lot of their materials.
Since many of the upperclassman areas have not been fully stocked with recycle bins, those students who wish to receive a bin should talk to ResLife so that they may have them available as soon as possible.